The big buzz in video games as of late is Nintendo’s recent adjustment of their financial forecast for the fiscal year (ending March 31st, 2014), with Wii U console sales down to 2.8 million units from 9 million, and for Wii U game sales to 19 million units from 38 million. This has led to a projected loss of 25 billion-yen ($240 million), rather than the profit of 55 billion yen they had been looking at before.
Everyone has their own thoughts on what Nintendo should have done, or what they should do. In that regard, I suppose I’m no different. I’m not in advertising, I’m not in public relations, I’m just a guy who loves video games; my opinion– which is strictly what this is– has no more weight than that of anyone else, perhaps even less due to the aforementioned concessions. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to share my opinion, and so share it I will.
The fact it wound up being spurred on by a post on a forum and became ready-made, easy material for updating the site might also have influenced my decision to do so. It’s a big universe, who can say for sure?
In any case, I was inspired to respond by a simple comment I’ve seen before: That calling it the “Wii U” has apparently sown confusion in the marketplace by following in the footsteps of such accessory naming as the Wii Wheel, the Wii Balance Board, the Wii Remote, and so forth. Rather than this, it is put forth, they should have called it something else, such as the “Super Wii”. Not the worst idea, but not quite where I’d go with it.
I’d have gone with “NES 6″, myself. It follows the Apple and PlayStation models, and if the idea that the reason Microsoft went with “360” instead of “2” is that they were worried they’d come off as inferior due to the number holds any water, then that would effectively put them ahead of both other members of the console market. (The alternative is coming up with bigger and greater numbers regardless of what number the console is in their series, though it’s worth noting that Microsoft themselves have since abandoned that ship.)
Plus, I think NES still resonates with people who grew up with the NES and Super NES, while managing to actually deliver a message about what the device is: A Nintendo Entertainment System, which is probably better for a multimedia device than “PlayStation”, while anyone not in the know has to ask themselves “what the hell is an ‘Xbox’?” Yeah, I know it came from “Direct-X Box”, but I don’t think that means jack to the layman, or even a lot of gamers.
As long as we’re talking NES here, I think that looking back at the marketing of that device would help, too. Not just for the retro appeal it might contain, though that doesn’t hurt, but more as a means of looking at the core message that was being delivered. “Getting back to basics”, you could say. One of the biggest stigmas against the Wii U is the idea that there are no games for it. “Perception is reality”, or so the saying goes, so clearly the perception– which is basically the modern day equivalent of this:
…needs to change.
Remember when they used to advertise like this? (If you’re about 30 or younger, probably not.)
I believe that’s more of what they need. Sure, advertise the new games as they come, but remind people of what’s already available right now, too. Like so:
Throwing in some third-party games with the lineup wouldn’t hurt matters, either, as Europe did with this Super NES commercial:
While it’s true that Nintendo would dedicate entire commercials to a single new title during these eras, that was well after a solid customer base had been established. They had the system, so it became time to push the newest games as they came out.
Incidentally, I can’t say that their current slogan is as empowering as “Now You’re Playing With Power”. In fact, people have seemed rather repulsed by how presumptuous “How U Will Play Next” sounded.
And isn’t a certain sense of empowerment what the Wii U is about, given the GamePad and Off-TV play and such? That would be something to capitalize on: “First you get the Wii U, then you get the GamePad, then you get the power”. Or something like that.
Plus, whenever possible, as many control schemes as possible. Everyone is different, and I know a lot of people weren’t keen on New Super Mario Bros. Wii with a Wii Remote held sideways. At least they added in a patch for the Pro Controller on New Super Mario Bros. U later, something that should have always been there. Choice is empowering. Playing the way that makes you feel the most comfortable is empowering.
I think more/better bundles might be good, too. Nintendo prides themselves so much on local multiplayer experiences, but they only give you one controller out of the box. Remember when you used to get two? Funny how when they stopped doing that, that’s when they lost their market lead. Of course, the Wii managed to run against that, but I think we’ve determined that phenomenon was an anomaly that is clearly not being repeated here.
Throwing in more games would help, too. Not just the same stuff they’re selling at retail, but more Nintendo eShop and Virtual Console stuff, too. Sure, if they threw in five or ten or however many Virtual Console games with a particular bundle, that person might not spend as much in the eShop, but do you know who’s definitely not spending money in the eShop right now? The people who don’t own a Wii U. There are different ways they could go about implementing them, but at this point, including numerous classic titles would cost them practically nothing.
Simply put: More value for the money would not be a bad thing.
One other thing is that as plenty of people have pointed out, Nintendo needs to get over the seeming snowflake complex they have. They seem to think that if someone else has done it, it’s no good to them– they must remain unique in all facets at all times. It’s okay to do something like someone else, particularly if it’s proven to work– like a solid account system. You don’t need to try reinventing the wheel every time you make a new car.
Heck, their Pro Controller almost seems to indicate they’ve softened a little there. That’s something; build on that.
I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers, but I think some of this kind of thinking would help them out at least a little bit going forward. I’m confident that Nintendo can turn this around, it’s just a matter of them actually figuring out what needs to be done and doing it.